How do you descale a non-reservoir machine, ie. Vetrano?

Need help with equipment usage or want to share your latest discovery?
User avatar
edwa

#1: Post by edwa »

I just finished reading an a blog of an owner who detailed the cleaning and descaling of his Hx machine. Similar to my Silvia he added his descaling solution to the reservoir.

I'm contemplating upgrading to a Vetrano so maintenance is but one on my checklist of questions.

How do you accomplish this with a unit like the Vetrano where there is a direct connect without a water reservoir?

Thanks in advance,
Ed

User avatar
HB
Admin

#2: Post by HB »

It's easy. I added a tee and two stopcocks. The tee leads to a jug of descaler. To descale, I turn off the mains water stopcock and open the second stopcock leading to the jug. When the pump calls for water, it will draw from the jug.

Here it is in ASCII art:
--- main -->------S1-------+----------- espresso machine
                           |
                           |
                           S2
                           |
                           |
                          Jug
Dan Kehn

User avatar
edwa

#3: Post by edwa »

Thanks again Dan.

Later in the day after posting the question I talked to both Chriscoffee and 1st-line. Interestingly, neither of them recommend descaling their Hx machines. One reason given is that the descaling solutions will eventually pit the insides of the boiler. I should have asked if that was specific to brass, copper, stainless steel, or a nickel plated boiler like your La Val.

Softer water from the outset is the offical call from both parties.

Any feedback?

User avatar
HB
Admin

#4: Post by HB »

edwa wrote:Interestingly, neither of them recommend descaling their Hx machines.
They're advocating water softening such that no scale is produced, not that you should do nothing and allow scale to build unabated. That's sound advice. The water in my town is soft already, so I monitor the "e61 mushroom" to determine if scale is building up:

Image

My machine's has never reached the point seen below:

Image
See Sputtering e61 & HX scale build-up - Cured! for more details
edwa wrote:One reason given is that the descaling solutions will eventually pit the insides of the boiler.
Jim's Water FAQ advocates "preventative descaling":
another_jim wrote:Descaling Solution - Generally, a flush through descaler uses about .5 to .75 fluid ounces (1 to 1.5 tablespoons, or 8 to 12 grams) of citric or tartaric (grape) acid powder dissolved in 1 liter of water. This is a 2.25% to 3.5% solution, equivalent to 33% to 50% dilute lemon juice. Cleancaf and other coffee manufacturers' descalers use this formula. Theoretically, these amounts will dissolve about 12 to 18 grams of scale per liter, but that would require leaving the solution in for several days; in practice, it is used for an hour or two to dissolve up to 5 grams of scale.

The formula is mild enough to be harmless to espresso machine components, but it will come out of brass or copper machines with a slight greenish tinge. This comes from milligram levels of dissolved copper and is no cause for alarm.
I would be surprised if a strength equivalent to 33% to 50% dilute lemon juice could pit the inside of the boiler, but I don't have Chris or Jim P's repair experience to refute their assertion.
Dan Kehn

User avatar
another_jim
Team HB

#5: Post by another_jim »

Industrial descalers are hydrochloric (aka muriatic) acid, about 2.5 pH, rather than the 4 to 4.5 of the citric acid solution. Espresso parts are left in them overnight when a machine is descaled in a shop. So I doubt the minor league descaling I describe can do a lot of damage to the brass.


The major concern I had was damage to seals and gaskets. The original cork seal on my Isomac heater started leaking within a year; I have no idea if this was due to the descaling, or the 19th century idiocy of using cork in the first place. The replacement teflon one never gave me a problem. In general, silicone, teflon and viton, the most common sealing materials, are immune to these pH levels.
Jim Schulman

User avatar
cannonfodder
Team HB

#6: Post by cannonfodder »

When I rebuilt my Faema, the boiler had a paper seal. I replaced it with the Teflon.
Dave Stephens

User avatar
iginfect

#7: Post by iginfect »

If I were to place a Pressure Regulator Valve, I presume it would go between the tee and the espresso machine?

On my "new" Vetrano, bought second hand,used for one year, I had a leak from where the flexible elbow attaches to the bottom of the machine. Teflon tape never stayed in place but a teflon Tplus2 pipethread sealant works on the leak. A Watts quick connect male adapter into the other end of the braided connector and a short piece of John Guest tubing goes to the adapter with a male end in the plumbing system. Bought at Lowes. The Chris Coffee instructions doesnt tell you how to hook up the plumb in system.

Marvin

User avatar
HB
Admin

#8: Post by HB »

iginfect wrote:If I were to place a Pressure Regulator Valve, I presume it would go between the tee and the espresso machine?
Mine is prior to the tee on the mains line. The water jug doesn't need pressure regulation.
Dan Kehn

User avatar
iginfect

#9: Post by iginfect »

Thanks.

Marvin

dgunter

#10: Post by dgunter »

HB wrote:It's easy. I added a tee and two stopcocks. The tee leads to a jug of descaler. To descale, I turn off the mains water stopcock and open the second stopcock leading to the jug. When the pump calls for water, it will draw from the jug.

Here it is in ASCII art:
--- main -->------S1-------+----------- espresso machine
                           |
                           |
                           S2
                           |
                           |
                          Jug
Would this be in between my jug and Flojet pump, or in between that pump and the machine?